"Hodgson's a lucky 'Geyser'", declared one prominent British national newspaper the morning after a dramatic 94th-minute goal from Arnor Ingvi Traustason secured Iceland's first-ever victory at a major competition against Austria at the Stade de France on Wednesday (22 June).
In addition to sending almost 10% of the tiny Nordic island's 330,000 population that have followed their team at a maiden European Championship into a state of absolute delirium (as well as provoking high-pitched yelps of unadulterated joy from commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson) such an eventful climax to Group F was also celebrated on these shores. This is because it meant that England, rather than gearing up for yet another meeting with Portugal, would instead face the plucky minnows at the last-16 stage in Nice on Monday night.
The obvious insinuation here is that Iceland present a far more beatable prospect for Roy Hodgson's stuttering side, whose failure to overcome Slovakia earlier in the week means they have landed awkwardly in the stacked half of the draw alongside reigning champions Spain, Germany, Italy and much-fancied hosts France.
While perfectly logical given the Three Lions' torrid recent tournament record against Cristiano Ronaldo and co, that viewpoint rather ignores Portugal's frankly horrendous defending during the lively 3-3 draw with Hungary and the fact that England will once again be forced to try and break down a team content to sit back and totally nullify their forward threats. So much for the public outcry to finally face a team who will attack and leave sizeable gaps for the likes of Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge to exploit.
Iceland's remarkable rise
Currently ranked 34th in the world by Fifa after being 131st in 2012, Iceland, co-managed by Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson, have long established themselves as the infatuation of footballing hipsters across the globe. Reaping the benefits of significant investment in their domestic structure from the Football Association of Iceland (KSI) over the past two decades, the team finished second behind Switzerland in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup but were cruelly denied a place in Brazil courtesy of goals from Mario Mandzukic and Darijo Srna during a 2-0 second-leg play-off defeat to 10-man Croatia in Zagreb.
No doubt motivated by that heart-wrenching failure, they left nothing to chance en route to Euro 2016, finishing second in qualification Group A with six wins from 10 matches – including a fairy tale Gylfi Sigurdsson-inspired double over the Netherlands. A closing run of three matches without a victory cost them top spot to the Czech Republic, but a point against Kazakhstan at Laugardalsvollur in Reykjavik was enough to seal their place as the smallest nation ever to qualify for a major tournament.
Friendlies against Norway and Liechtenstein warmed Iceland up for the main event, where they opened with a combative and hugely creditable 1-1 draw with Portugal in Saint-Etienne. A second-half volley from Birkir Bjarnason cancelled out Nani's opener, but the match was quickly overshadowed by seemingly bitter complaints from Ronaldo that their jubilant celebrations and relentlessly defensive approach were indicative of a team with a small mentality that would achieve nothing at the competition.
Such sour grapes were in sharp contrast to just about everyone else's assessment of the team, who were understandably keen to defend their methods. Moving on to Marseille, they stood on the brink of a historic first win courtesy of a Sigurdsson penalty only to settle for another point against Hungary when Hammarby's Birkir Saevarsson inadvertently turned Nemanja Nikolic's cross into his own net with just two minutes of the 90 left.
Any familiar players?
Swansea City's affable playmaker Sigurdsson provides the main attacking threat, although English fans should also be fully familiar with Eidur Gudjohnsen. The veteran forward won two Premier League titles with Chelsea during Jose Mourinho's first managerial stint at Stamford Bridge and went on to lift the Champions League during a three-year stint at Barcelona. He also enjoyed two separate spells with Bolton Wanderers and spent time at Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham.
Now 37, 86-cap Gudjohnsen retired from international football in November 2013 before returning to the fold in March of last year. As well as being Iceland's most-famous player and all-time top goalscorer, he also made history as a 17-year-old back in 1996 when he replaced father Arnor in the second half of a victory over Estonia in Tallinn. His place in the final squad looked to be in danger before a productive move to Molde.
Cardiff City supporters will know all about captain Aron Gunnarsson's flat and dangerous long throws, while Johann Gudmundsson was a rare shining light in an otherwise dismal 2015-16 campaign for relegated Charlton Athletic. Centre-back Ragnar Sigurdsson has also earned rave reviews for his uncompromising performances in defence alongside former Plymouth Argyle, Rotherham United and Aberdeen journeyman Kari Arnason.